Records of the Carson and Pillans Class Club, Edinburgh

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-176
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      English, and Modern Greek (1453-).
  • Physical Description
      4 volumes, 2 photograph albums, 2 bundles printed papers, 1 empty box formerly containing these items, 1 printed item.
  • Location
      Gen. 164-168; Dc.4.101-103 Blackie

Scope and Content

The records of the Club are composed of: a volume listing the names of Club fellows (those pupils of Dr. Carson and Dr. Pillans between 1815 and 1821, and those present at Carson Class Club annual dinners held for example in 1838 at the Royal Hotel, in 1842 at Archers' Hall and in 1863 at the Royal British Hotel, and containing printed matter such as menus, minutes of meetings, and The professor's song and The actuary's song, and notes of funds; two photograph albums containing portraits of fellows and memoriam cards; an album containing cuttings, letters, and obituary notices; one Bible; and, one volume containing reports of meetings. There are also two bundles of printed matter, namely lists of fellows, 1815-1882, and fellows from Dr. Carson's class 1815-1821. There is also a menu in Greek.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Carson and Pillans Class Club of the Royal High School, Edinburgh, had been instituted in 1832. The members or fellows of the Club were those High School students spending their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th years in the classes of Dr. Aglionby Ross Carson between 1815 and 1821, and the 5th year with Dr. James Pillans, between 1819-1820.

Born in Holywood, Dumfriesshire, in 1780, and educated at Wallace Hall and then Edinburgh University, Carson had been elected Rector of Dumfries Grammar School in 1801. In 1806 he became Classics master at the Royal High School in Edinburgh, and then Rector in 1820 until 1845. Carson died in Edinburgh on 4 November 1850.

Born in Edinburgh in April 1778, and educated at the Royal High School then Edinburgh University, Pillans became Rector of the Royal High School in 1810 then proceeded to develop the teaching of Greek, classical geography, and Latin verse composition. In 1820, Pillans was elected to the Chair of Humanity and Laws (or Latin, or Roman literature) at Edinburgh University. He was also President of the Watt Institution and School of Art (later to become the Heriot Watt College and then Heriot Watt University). He resigned his Chair in 1863 and died at his home in Inverleith Row on 27 March 1864.

The Carson and Pillans Class Club would remain in existence for over fifty years, and then on 10 March 1884 it was noted in the proceedings of the Club that a box containing records of the meetings from 1832 until 1883, as well as photograph albums and a Bible, were to be deposited at Edinburgh University Library. The deaths of the fellows, or their great ages, marked the end of the meetings of the Carson and Pillans Class Club.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using material in the collection, and: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.15. Owens-Pockrich. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909. (2) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national Biography. Vol.3. Brown-Chaloner. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The local Indexes show references to Professor James Pillans (check the Indexes for more details).